Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tents and Tribes

Psalm 61:1-4 says:
1 Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

One part of this passage has always made me uncomfortable.  It is the prayer to be allowed to "dwell in Your tent forever."  I don't want to dwell in anybody's tent.  I don't want to live a sheltered little life hiding out from the adventures this world has to offer.  Why would anybody?

The truth is, that is not what the psalmist is asking.  The term "dwell" is one that carries the implication of sojourning.  To dwell in someone's tent means you are a part of their tribe.  You go where they go and do what they do.  You are on a journey with them.

This changes everything about the meaning of this passage.  The psalmist prays in verse 2 to be led to a rock higher than himself.  The implication is that he has been living his own way, trusting in the foundation he could create for himself.  But now he realizes that this kind of life is too small and weak and causes his heart to grow faint. 

A lot of us do the same thing.  We get very busy building our own lives and our own little kingdoms until the day when we realize our resources are not enough.  Smart people then run to God like the writer of this Psalm.  However, wise people run to God to be part of a better tribe  - to dwell in a better tent - before their kingdoms collapse. 

May all of us learn to dwell in the tent of Almighty God, to stand on a higher rock, and live the adventures that await us as members of God's own tribe.  Grace and peace.

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